Center Andrei Nikolishin played 11 seasons in the NHL, from 1994 to 2004. He began his North American hockey career with the Hartford Whalers before moving to the Washington Capitals, where he played from 1996 to 2002. Nikolishin ended his playing career with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2004 and became a scout for them in 2016, where he remains today.
Being a center during his playing career and a current scout who knows Russian hockey players very well, Nikolishin has a good knowledge base of Capitals 2022 first round pick Ivan Miroshnichenko. He provided his thoughts on “Miro” in a recent interview with Russian media outlet MatchTV.
Miroshnichenko, 18, is under contract in the KHL with Avangard until 2024, but that should have little-to-no impact on his overall development plans as far as the Capitals are concerned. The situation closely resembles that of Evgeny Kuznetsov, who had to wrap-up his KHL career before heading to the District.
“How long he will play in the KHL, no one cares,” said Nikolishin. “No one was going to bring Ivan to Washington right now. The illness took him back a little. To put it simply, the guy was battling cancer. But now Miroshnichenko has completely recovered, passed all the tests. Really, in full combat readiness.”
However, exactly when Miro returns to play for Avangard is still not known, and Nikolishin believes there is still development needed at the VHL and the KHL levels.
“It’s hard to say, while he only spent one year in the VHL. And then, I think that he was too early there. Miroshnichenko should have continued to play in the MHL, where he would have received more playing time, and his role in the team would have been different. It would develop better.”
Finally, Nikolishin provided his player scouting report for Miroshnichenko.
“Miroshnichenko is big and powerful beyond his years. This is a power forward with a crazy shot, who is very good at navigating around the net – he finds the puck and shoots from any position. Plus hardworking, efficient. There are, of course, flaws in skating and balance. But these are particulars, there are many more advantages. He had already adapted to the VHL, after the New Year, before his illness, he began to play in the leading teams.”
Miroshnichenko and the other Capitals draft selections are now in northern Virginia for next week’s Capitals development camp, which runs from Monday through Thursday at MedStar Capitals Iceplex. Players will then participate in a scrimmage at Capitals One Arena on Friday night. Both venues are free and open to the public.
By Jon Sorensen